Pranayama -> Intention -> Mantra -> Love

This week, Wah! – a musician and spiritual seeker – encourages us to deepen our connection with the world around us by enhancing our pranayama practice with intention, visualization, and melody or mantra. 

There is an urgency in the air to fix what’s wrong in our hearts, to correct the imbalances between man and nature, to get it right. The urgency is real – it really is time to clean up the environment, save the bees, and start acting from our hearts – but the solution itself has no urgency in it.

The solution is love – the energy of healing, coherent geometry, rainbows and waterfalls. It is the embrace of the Mother for the child, it is a gentle walk through nature, it is the breeze blowing in your hair, the fragrance of a flower, the motion of a flower blooming…

And so, while it really is necessary for you to get out there and do something, set your intention and help the world, the best thing to start that process is calling in the coherent energy of love. As you bring it into yourself, you are able to move and act with compassion and discretion.

Pranayama is the yogic practice of breath control, used to calm the mind and heal the nervous system. Most well known is probably nadi shodhana – inhaling through the L nostril, exhaling R, inhaling R, exhaling L, with pauses at each transition. The goal is not solely to slow down the breath, but to extend the breath by making it the same intensity throughout. I call it creating a uniform “width” in the breath – allowing the breath to carry the same volume of air in the beginning, middle and end of your exhale, or inhale. Breath limitations mirror energetic limitations – you can see it in the loose exhale of an exasperated sigh, the quick inhale of an angry comment. Pranayama seeks a uniform width of the breath.

Pranayama also brings the breath into structure, asking the air to flow in certain geometric patterns or rhythms. Recurring patterns which mimic nature and its rhythms are soothing to the nervous system; hence the breathing pattern initiates a peaceful structure for the body and its circulation, organs and tissues.

Now for something a little different. Add an intention to your pranayama practice. This will summon your imagination and psychic senses to heal and clear your body. You can add emotional qualities to the breath – inhale soothing energy (L nostril), exhale agitation (R nostril). Inhale healing (L nostril), exhale distractions (R nostril). Conveniently, the R and L nostrils have deities associated with them (Ida and Pingala), and they have qualities you can use in your visualizations. Ida (L nostril) is the moon – subconscious, tranquil, peaceful. Pingala (R nostril) is the sun – energetic, enthusiastic, fiery.

In its normal cycle, the breath moves predominantly through one nostril or the other, alternating L to R at approximately 1 hour and 20 minute intervals throughout the day. This accounts for periods of action (R nostril) and rest (L nostril) in your activities. If you are reading this article, your L nostril is probably dominant. L nostril rules relaxation, reading, and reflection. Check it out: breathe through the L nostril and feel it moving easily in and out. Then breathe only through the R nostril, it might be slightly more congested, less easy to move the air through. If your L nostril were not dominant, you’d be up and running about doing something.

If the nostrils don’t change in their alternation, you feel a debilitation of that energy. Fire (R nostril) for too long a duration turns enthusiasm to annoyance, agitation, anger. Peace (L nostril) for too long a duration turns tranquility into lethargy, depression, inertia.

So adding the imagery enhances your experience. Inhale excitement for the next project (R nostril), exhale depression that it’ll never happen (L nostril). Inhale self- empowerment (R nostril), exhale yesterday’s conclusions and judgments about it all (L nostril).

When you have attuned your emotions to a proper state of heart energy using the imagery, you can graduate to a mantra. Inhale (MAA, the energy of the Mother), exhale (OM, the energy of the whole Universe moving). Inhale (SO), exhale (HUM). Or many infinite number of variations.

Adding melody to the mantra and breath practice is a beautiful way to extend pranayama practice. Singing and chanting can be done for hours at a time and if the melody is beautiful, you won’t even feel like it’s “good for you” even though it’s extending the length of your exhale by two or three times.

If you practice your pranayama well, the world will resound with depth and dimension afterwards – the muffler on the car will sound like ‘Om’, the cellphone will sound like birds singing. The Universe will breathe its sounds and melodies in an endless display of love. In this way, you can work with the Universe, co-creating a world of peace and harmony, so urgently needed at this time.

Wah! is a musician and spiritual seeker who travels the world singing and expanding sacred intention. Her Healing Concert uses slow-moving, calming laser lights and visual projections combined with loops, delays, and keyboards to gently guide audiences into relaxation. Wah! distributes flower petals to the audience at the end of the concert. Join Wah! Sunday October 2nd at Sangha Space in Media, PA, and Monday October 3rd at 9:30am at Yoga Garden. Learn more at, connect with Wah! on Facebook and on Twitter.

My Area Yoga is an online directory, calendar, blog, and information hub for the wellness and yoga community. Currently offering service in the northeast, as well as Chicago. Our mission is to be the most comprehensive online resource for the local communities.

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